Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2019

Ferrari drivers were “pushing flat-out” despite finishing a minute behind

2019 Hungarian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc denied they had been conserving their pace despite finishing over a minute behind race winner Lewis Hamilton in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“We were also pushing at the maximum to try to have our best race” said Leclerc, who was passed by his team mate on the penultimate lap at the Hungaroring.

Vettel also rejected the suggested Hamilton and Max Verstappen had finished so far ahead because they were pushing each other harder in their fight for victory.

“I think they were pushing flat-out and we were pushing flat-out,” he said. “So I don’t think they were able to get another second just because they enjoyed themselves, I don’t think so.”

Ferraro team principal Mattia Binotto said the gap was a result of the SF90’s weakness on tracks which require high downforce.

“I think what we should try to explain is not really the minute today [but] how is it possible that just a week ago we had the fastest car and today we are somehow not the fastest,” he said.

“Here I think as we often say it’s very track-dependent. We know that our car is lacking maximum downforce and when you are on a circuit like Budapest where maximum downforce is required then we are certainly suffering.”

Ferrari qualified within half a second of Verstappen’s pole position time but lost almost nine-tenths of a second per laps on average during the race.

“You suffer even more in the race compared to quali because on the single lap of quali the grip of the tyres is coping with the lack of downforce you may have,” explained Binotto. “But on the long distance then you are sliding, overheating the tyres and things are certainly more complicated.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

36 comments on “Ferrari drivers were “pushing flat-out” despite finishing a minute behind”

  1. Ferrari were favourites before season opening, judging by their pace and ‘car on rails’ observation during pre season testing. What went wrong?
    How can Redbull with an Honda PU finish a minute ahead of them? Serious answers are needed.

    1. @lums Serious answers require serious questions

    2. @lums, before the season, there was a suggestion that the aerodynamic philosophy that Ferrari had adopted was one where it would be easier to unlock initial performance, but the long term development potential was more limited, whereas the approach that Mercedes and Red Bull have adopted was more difficult to develop initially, but would offer greater long term potential.

      The front wing design that some were calling a masterstroke seems instead to have become a drawback, as over time it seems that Ferrari are unable to increase the front downforce as easily as they can the rear axle downforce – it’s difficult for them to progress whilst keeping the handling balance of the car neutral at the same time, as the tendency over time is for a rearward shift in the handling balance.

      It’s notable that their best venues have been those which were more rear traction limited than front traction limited, where a tendency towards a slight understeer balance on fresh tyres – which, over time, becomes a more neutral balance as the rear traction worsens first – where some of those deficiencies are less obvious problems.

      Some have also wondered whether the ambient conditions in the pre-season tests – fairly cool and consistent air and track temperatures – might have also worked in their favour. Again, going into the season, it seems that they’ve struggled with maintaining consistent front and rear tyre temperatures, with more than a few complaints that they are struggling with excessive rear tyre temperatures whilst the fronts are under temperature.

      There were also a few whispers in the Italian press early in the year that, whilst Ferrari’s power unit was strong over a single lap, it had also become more unreliable as a result. There was talk that they were having to run the engine in lower power settings than they wanted to, and certainly in Melbourne there was a lot of radio chatter that suggested they were running in lower power modes than normal and having to use more cooling than usual – problems that might have been less evident over a single lap or the shorter stints that teams might have run in Barcelona, and perhaps also slightly masked by the slightly cooler air temperatures. Whilst the upgraded engine seems to have addressed those issues, it’s come at a time when the rest of the package is losing competitiveness against Red Bull and Mercedes.

      1. Seriously, I’m going to start a petition in for anon to get an account. Such brilliant comments and (s)he doesn’t even have a nickname!

    3. @lums The big question is how journos got it so wrong. I watched testing on f1tv, I don’t know where the journos were coming from, you could see Mercedes clearly ahead and Rab looked better at turn 3.

      1. @peartree
        A lot of people got it wrong not just the journos, even Mercedes themselves got it wrong in the first half the acknowledged. It wasn’t obvious that Merc was ahead. IIRC, even personnel from Redbull and other teams believed Ferrari had finally built a beast of a car ‘cos of how glued it was to the track, whereas, the Mercs were a handful to drive.

  2. I have no doubt that Ferrari drivers were pushing at the maximum. I just think Lewis and especially Max was using “overtake” and engine’s “top” modes much much more than Ferrari drivers who didn’t need to risk to go to the extreme engine modes for too long or even at all during the race.

    1. @bulgarian
      Then they are in serious problem if the Honda and Merc PU’s can run such long stints on full power. Doesnt even make sense to be conserving PU while watching your competition have fun ahead. I’d be p1ssed if I had top engine modes available to me but just dont feel like using it. Silly.

      1. I see it like this – Max will receive a 4th Honda engine in Spa or Monza, he isn’t a reallistic contender for the title this year, so he can push even beyound the limit if a win is possible. Ferrari drivers are still using their 2nd Ferrari engine.

        1. @bulgarian
          So what you are saying is Ferrari is playing the long game, therefore, they’ll catch up to Redbull and Merc come end of season?

          1. I believe Ferrari are more clever than we think or as it looks at the moment. They might take their time for the 3rd engine to make sure it is a “beast”. Probably, it will too late to catch Hamilton at the end of the season, but the 2nd place for Vettel is still possible.

        2. Mercs are in much better state than Ferraris when it comes to PU usage(check the chart shared yesterday by Keith). So dont think your theory holds any substance. Honda unlike these 2 is surely unreliable as ever and by the end of season we surely will see 5th or 6th PU in that RbR car of Max.

          1. The Honda engine isn’t notably unreliable any more. They’re running at reasonably close to full power a bit more of the time than the Merc or Ferrari, leading to less reliability – either that or they’re producing comparable power but can’t gain reliability by turning it down.

            Renault, in the other hand…

          2. @Dave: Both RBR cars are already on their 3rd ICE and while STR cars are on their 4th and 5th ICE. Renault are rocking the same boat in terms ICE usage only thanks to additional PU change for Ricciardo.

        3. Max () isn’t a reallistic contender for the title this year

          But he’s still the biggest threat* to Lewis of the ‘irrealistic’ contenders ;)

          *according to the bookies (beating Bottas with a factor 7)

    2. @bulgarian yes but that’s not a minute.

  3. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    4th August 2019, 20:35

    They both drove superbly especially Vettel today. Great pass on Charles and also great tyre management.

    1. A+++ for the irony.

  4. Ferrari seemed to have dropped 20 seconds behind the leaders after the first lap. How is that possible?

    1. @jimfromus
      You sure you didn’t watch the 6 minutes highlights version of the race?

  5. If Ferrari was more competitive, Max would have won this race, because it would not have allowed the strategy call.

    1. Pat (@patrick1972)
      4th August 2019, 21:56

      A teammate that can stay within 20 seconds, would have archieved the same thing

    2. @gechichan actually I think Max was safe from undercut during first stop because Ferraris were too slow. Under normal conditions that would have been Mercedes’ move.

      1. But so was HAM since he was (close) behind VER.

      2. @ivan-vinitskyy that makes no sense to me. Undercut from Lewis? If he pitted he would have fell behind both Ferraris, and even with fresher tires and everything turned up to 11 it would have been hard to pass both of them while also outpacing Max in clean air.

        1. @gechichan That’s why I’m saying Max was safe, this was not an option for Lewis. Max was first to gain enough delta over the Ferrari’s to pit and come out in front. It was not an option for Lewis.
          So either Ferraris were more competative and Ham could undercut Max in lap 20 (and still have enough clean air to ferraris in front) or Ferraris were slow and Ham could pit twice as he did.
          @mg1982 Close is not good enough, Max was a second ahead of Ham and he came out 1 or 2 sec ahead of Lec. That would have been increadibly risky for Ham.

    3. @gechichan Ham chopping off Bot at the start was what made max’s race such a challenge. The thing that nobody pointed out is how mercedes underperformed in Q.

      1. Mercedes hardly underperformed in qualy. Hamilton didn’t have a great lap by his standards, which let Max move up from 2nd to 3rd because he did have a good lap.

  6. I wonder if Mattia Binotto will be at Ferrari in 2020. Failing teamprincipals are being dumped merciless by the scuderia.

    1. In my view the worst part is that they seem to be convinced of where they are lacking, but we see no progress, I fear they may not be seeing things clearly.

      1. @peartree Hungaroring was always going to be one of Ferrari’s worst tracks of the season because they have gone towards a lower downforce/drag philosophy with their car this year (whether intentional or not).

        We will see how much they are ‘lacking’ when we get to circuits like Spa and Monza.

  7. Was Ferrari running spec A ?

  8. John Richards (@legardforpresident)
    5th August 2019, 4:58

    I don’t want to sound very “liberal” but at this point, the Scuderia needs a bit of the ‘world team’ flare that was Ferrari during the Brawn-Schumi-Byrne-Todt eras. They’re relying too much on their “Italian” charm. Not my words, but that of the Big Mr. E. I hope Leclerc uses this time to build his brand value instead so that when the time is right, he can either pounce or bail on Ferrari for a race winning team. Sebastian is as it is ready to leave F1. He’s rich, has a wonderful family and has so much more to do and see, so I don’t see his future get tarnished by an ailing Ferrari. But Leclerc, he needs to not get too tied up in Ferrari

  9. They were very weak this weekend. But the race was no wonder since they qualified ~0.5sec behind VER.

Comments are closed.